48 Scenes That Show Why Superman IV: The Quest for Peace Is a Solid Contender for the Title of Worst Superhero Movie Ever Made
37. No, he’s not dead, but this movie did its damnedest to kill his film career.
Cut to pointless scene where Lacey confronts her daddy about the paper’s new sensationalistic direction and how she only now realizes it’s wrong, wrong, wrong. Whatever. Someone gives Warfield Superman’s cape, which he says he bought “cheap.” Lois snatches it from him and quits her job to protest the headline “Is Superman Dead?” I gotta wonder what’s up with Lois here. The question mark is clearly there; it’s not as if the paper is rooting for Superman’s death or proclaiming him dead before his time. It’s just asking the question a lot of people might be asking in light of the recent battle and Superman’s subsequent disappearance. Methinks she’s just looking for any excuse to walk out of there, ribbon-tied contracts be damned.
38. You know she totally knows he’s Superman and this is just part of some kinky roleplay thing they do, right?
Kent’s apartment. Kent looks more like he has the sniffles than fighting for his life. Lois uses a credit card to jimmy his lock open. (Does that ever work, by the way? I thought it was one of those “only in the movies” things, like how every grocery bag carried by a movie character has to have a stick of French bread sticking out of it.) Blah blah we’re worried about you and no one has seen Superman either and by the way if you see him (wink wink) could you give him his cape, blah blah blah. Does she suspect Clark is Superman, and is just playing along with Kent here? Do we even care?
39. Lex is in his counting room, counting stacks of money.
Seriously, there are some major stacks he’s got there — you’d think even a criminal mastermind would accept the occasional cheque from his clients. Bank tellers tend not to accept deposits by the pallet-load, Lex. The nuclear nogoodniks say they’re pleased with all the extra business and they want to give Lex a raise for all he’s done. (Which is… what, precisely? Put Superman out of commission? You mean the governments of the world were just going along with the “give peace a chance” thing only because a guy who can eyeball a mountain into molten ash told them to, but now that he’s out of the picture it’s back to business as usual? My, what a delightfully uplifting message for the brain-damaged four-year-olds this script is aimed at.) Lex has a better idea; namely, to take over the nuclear arms business, with Nuke’s muscle backing him up. He even has Nuke eye-burn a dollar bill to make his point. Nogoodniks go running. Lex makes some blabby-blah about fear being the only real power and Nuke asks, rather philosophically for a week-old man-child, “And what do you fear?” Lex: “With Superman dead and you on my team? What’s to fear?”
40. See? See? I told you that Smallville scene was important!
We cut back to Kent’s not-so-swingin’ bachelor pad, where he holds the glowing green crystal we saw back at the beginning of the film. In case you missed it the first time, his mother’s voice repeats that line about “all that remains of Krypton’s energy is yours.” Which again begs the question: So what kind of energy are we talking here? How will it restore Superman back to health? What exactly is wrong with him, anyway? Does he have to eat the crystal or bathe in its glow or grind it up into an herbal tea or what? We don’t know; we’re not told. Bad scriptwriters! Bad!
41. Interestingly, screaming “Where is the woman?” while rampaging down a crowded street is also how I met my sweetheart. True story.
Morning. Nuke powers up for the day (you can almost hear the Mac startup sound) and sees the latest copy of the Daily Planet with a full-page photo of Lacey next to the headline: “New publisher for your favourite paper.” Man, so many things wrong with this ham-fisted way of bringing Lacey to Nuke’s attention, not least of which is (a) hasn’t she already been the publisher for, like, a couple of weeks now? (b) no newspaper, not even one owned by a Rupert Murdoch type, would waste an entire front page on puff pieces like this when there’s actual news out there waiting to be distorted and (c) “favourite”…? With a U? On the front page of one of the biggest newspapers in the USA? It appears our boy, all grown up now, has himself some oats to sow, so off he flies to the Daily Planet building in search of said woman. “Where is the woman?” he bellows at Superman, who is obviously back in fighting form thanks to his mysterious Kryptonian Glo-Stick of Unspecified Recuperative Powers. Naturally, one of the bonuses of the treatment was gaining the power of telepathy, as he somehow just knew Nuke was going to show up at the Daily Planet.
42. “The Supey and Nukey shooooooooow!”
They fight, they fight, they fight, they fight, fight fight FIGHT fight fight FIGHT… you get the idea. Random acts of property violence are perpetrated against the innocent cars and mailboxes of Metropolis. My personal fave: I can’t decide between Nuke making a SWAT van spin like a top or melting a cop’s gun barrel WHILE THE COP IS STILL HOLDING ON TO THE GUN AND NOT SCREAMING IN AGONY. And again, Superman does this freaky telekinetic thing where he saves people floating in the air by just pointing at them. “Okay, you win!” Superman cries, leading Nuke into the Daily Planet building to claim his prize (which, again, why? Did Luthor explain the birds and the bees to him at some point?). But wait! Supe’s capitulation is merely a ruse, as he shoves Nuke into the elevator, somehow knowing (he just knows everything, all right? Shut up with your need for logic!) that complete darkness will cause Nuke to power down. Superman rips the whole elevator car out of the building and flies to the moon with it. He then drops it in a crater, just as the sun rises over the moon’s horizon and its beams seep through a crack in the elevator door. Um, oops? Anyone else want to compile a list of the ways in which Superman could have kept this bozo in the dark for longer than five minutes that wouldn’t involve leaving him on the surface of the moon in a metal box with a non-airtight door? As Superman takes time to straighten an American flag left by astronauts, Nuke pounces and again they start a-feudin’. Nuke tries the Manicure of Malevolence on Superman again but misses, lots of kicking, punching, lifting of rocks, etc. Nuke soon gains the upper hand and pounds Superman into the dirt like a tent-peg before flying off back to Earth.
43. And later, Superman will divert an asteroid into the Earth’s orbit to help him find his car keys. Guy is not a fan of the easy solution, is what I’m saying.
Metropolis. Lacey is in a spat with her dad again when Nuke shows up and kidnaps her to… take her back to his place and listen to his Rod Stewart albums, I guess. Seriously, do we get any insight at any point in this movie into why this loser wants Lacey so badly? No? Okay, just checking. Not to worry, though, because here comes my favourite part. Not five minutes ago, during his little tussle with his clone, Superman rolled out of the way of a rock the size of a home appliance, but now that he’s shaken off the pounding he just got from Nuke he somehow has enough super-strength to MOVE THE ENTIRE FREAKIN’ MOON OUT OF ORBIT and cause an artificial eclipse. And just when you’re absorbing what is about the height of stupidity for this movie, the very next scene shows Nuke and Lacey FLYING THROUGH OUTER SPACE with no apparent ill effects suffered by his decidedly non-superhuman hostage. (And just so you don’t think they’re only really high up in the sky, we get a shot of the Earth from their perspective that definitely shows it way, way back in the background.) The eclipse — aside from freaking out everyone on Earth and causing massive floods along every coastline — does the trick and Nuke’s knocked out for the last time. Lacey is fine, of course, not suffering the least bit from frostbite, hypothermia, asphyxiation, or that cool head-popping thing demonstrated by Arnold and his lady friend at the end of Total Recall.
44. Hey, let’s add nuclear engineers to our growing mob of pitchfork-wielding scientific experts while we’re at it.
Having saved the not-nearly-distressed damsel, Superman flies Nuke back to Earth and drops him down the cooling tower of a nuclear reactor, which causes a massive upswing in power and turns on all the lights in the big city. Which… okay. Totally leaving aside Superman’s much-vaunted value of life and the question of whether this Nuke character was truly “alive” or not… are there any nuclear engineers out there who can explain how a man created from Kryptonian DNA and birthed in the heart of the sun is able to break down into the protons or neutrons or whatever the hell they use to power nuclear generators?
45. Perry White. You know, that old guy with, like, three lines of dialogue about 80 minutes ago?
Back to the Daily Planet. Perry White makes a grand speech in the lobby about how he convinced the bankers of the city that the Planet should be treated “like a natural resource” and so he got enough cash together to buy all the outstanding shares. (And boy howdy, if there is one group of people who know how to treat a natural resource with respect, it’s a bunch of bankers.) Long story short: Warfield out, White back in. Had they spent more than 10 minutes on this stupid subplot, I might have cared. Then again, I might have cared had I still been sober at this point. Planet headline proudly proclaims: “We’re back!” Yes, but will they ever leave?
46. Oh, Clark, you delightful spaz, you.
Back at the UN building. Clark, Jimmy and Lois await Superman’s arrival at the building. Clark “forgets” his recorder — and runs off to get it just before Superman shows up. Again he addresses the general assembly. “Well, once more we’ve survived the threat of war and found a fragile peace,” he says. Um… what war in particular are you referring to, Kal? He continues: I was wrong, peace is not mine to give, etc. Then he gives a line that sounds like it came from someone like Franklin Roosevelt or Martin Luther King, but I’ll be damned if I can find the source: “There will be peace when the people of the world want it so bad their governments will have no choice but to give it to them.” True, that. But hardly worth 90 minutes of my life to hear.
47. And Lex is on the lam. Again. Not really making the case for “world’s greatest criminal mastermind, ” I gotta say.
Plans foiled yet again, Lex is making a break for it in the most conspicuous convertible ever made. Seriously, it’s like something Hitler’s gay cousin would have taken out for weekend drives on the Autobahn. As Luthor and Lenny discuss what to do next, who else but Superman picks them up and drops Lenny off at some Boystown-type place, where a priest comes out and says every boy can be helped… out of his pants. (Yes, I agree, that was a totally tasteless joke, but seriously — Lenny needs to lose those clothes before any serious rehabilitation can happen.) Later: “Hey, Mozart’s back!” yells a convict in the same quarry that Luthor escaped from. As Superman swoops down with Luthor (again, knowing exactly where Luthor’s chain gang would be at this precise time because HE’S SUPERMAN AND STOP ASKING QUESTIONS, DAMMIT!), the whistling convicts offer up a rousing rendition of Mozart that they apparently rehearsed as a group just on the off chance Luthor would come back to them. Aw. You just know he’s the favorite bitch back at Cellblock D.
48. Then, word for word, this nonsensical exchange between hero and villain. I swear to God, I’m not making any of this up:
Lex: How did you beat him?
Superman: High school physics, Luthor. If he was born of the sun, he must have used it for energy.
Lex: Is the world going to be vaporized?
Superman: No, Luthor, it’s as it always was, on the brink with good fighting evil.
And… scene. Back out in space. Superman flies around the Earth. Rousing music swells up. Names roll across screen. Babies are born. Songs are sung. Comic fans riot. Life lumbers on.